#12 — If you are a stranger act like one (Ξνος ων ισθι)

This is an interesting Maxim for me as it seems counter to standard logic. It definitely seems to be contrary to the popular saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”. But what it says to me is to not be afraid to ask questions out of fear of looking foolish. No matter how much we try, we will all be “a stranger” at some point in our lives. Trying to muddle through without asking for help in unfamiliar territory is to ignore that fact.
It is by asking the questions we feel most foolish for asking that we open ourselves the most to learning from the unfamiliar. These are the questions that we think shouldbe obvious, but are not because the way we have learned to do something is not the way that it is done in the situation. If we do not “act like a stranger” we run the risk of missing something vital because of preconceptions and ending up looking more foolish than if we had asked to begin with.
If we swallow our pride, however, and simply ask for directions/instructions then we find that the way to our goal opens up for us. And it is that opening to understanding that is the wisdom of this Maxim.

One thought on “#12 — If you are a stranger act like one (Ξνος ων ισθι)

  1. Personally I think “xenos” here may refer to the “guest”, and it implies that guests should behave appropriately and graciously towards their hosts.

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